Ky. Paper Publishes, Defying Court Order

By: Joe Strupp

Defying a court order to stop publishing under its longtime name, The Mountain Citizen, a 5,700-circulation weekly in Inez, Ky., printed and distributed its usual run Wednesday — despite the fact that it had to find another printing site because its regular printer would not to do the job.

“We found a press to print our paper, and it is going out,” said Ronnie Hickman, news and sports staff editor at the Citizen, which is in an unusual battle for its name.

Johnson County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Sparks issued a court order Tuesday barring the paper from publishing under the name Mountain Citizen Inc. following a request from attorney John R. Triplett, who is also chairman of the Martin County Water District board. Triplett, a longtime critic of the Citizen‘s reporting on local water issues, recently acquired the paper’s name after its owners failed to renew incorporation papers with the Kentucky secretary of state.

Kentucky law requires businesses to renew their incorporation annually, and if they do not, they are presumed to be inactive — and their corporate name becomes available for purchase by someone else. State officials told The Associated Press that Mountain Citizen Inc. had not renewed its name in two years.

Triplett did not return calls seeking comment.

Hickman said the court order did not stop the paper from publishing, but required editors to find another printing site after The Appalachian News-Express, a thrice-weekly in nearby Pikeville that normally prints the Citizen, refused to do so once it received a court order of its own. Hickman would not disclose where the paper was printed, but said it went beyond its usual 24 to 30 pages — running 38 pages, because of extensive election preview coverage.

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